Mary Beth and I had bought some Trader Joe's Organic Soft Multi Grain Bread last week and both loaves crumbled like cheap stucco. We couldn't use the bread for toast, we couldn't use the bread for sandwiches, so I suggested using it for a recipe for Italian bread ball soup my mom taught me called Canederli.
I'm a new vegetarian (since January 7th 2010, so it doesn't count as a resolution), so I had extra incentive in attempting to adapt it to a meat-free soup. The recipe calls for kielbasa and bacon, so I knew that if I didn't find some kind of replacement for the chunky saltiness then it would definitely be missing something. Inspiration came from another item in our trip to Trader Joe's: smoked Gouda.
As I got to work Mary Beth came in and suggested that these could work as meatless balls for spaghetti, so I took half-a-dozen of them and fried, then baked them to be dipped in some sauce as a snack/experiment.
My recipe for both is as follows (measured for 1 1/2 loaves):
1 1/2 (36 oz.) loaves of old dry hard bread (cut into cubes)
1 heaping cup of Romano cheese
1/4 cup of cilantro
6 large eggs
1 cup of milk
1 cup of smoked Gouda (also cubed)
1/2 cup diced onion
4 quarts of broth
flour and bread crumbs (as needed)
Sauté the diced onion in a small sauce pan, coated on the inside with olive oil, and set aside to cool (though not in the ingredients list, I often sauté my onions with roasted red pepper flakes, garlic, curry powder and/or ginger). Pour bread, Romano Cheese, cilantro, smoked Gouda, eggs, and milk into a very large dry bowl. Knead ingredients, along with cooled onions until evenly mixed.
Pour the broth into a large pot and set it to boil, staying mindful of it as you do the following:
Liberally flour a cutting board, or other dry surface, and dust the excess from your hands into the bowl. Roll the mix into large meatball sized balls and roll the balls in the flour. For each ball roll them gently from hand to hand until they have a nice, thin, and even coating of flour. Set these balls aside on the on-deck circle next to the pot of boiling broth. As the broth boils gently place each ball into the pot. It will sink to the bottom. Take as much time as needed; you'll keep the soup boiling for thirty minutes after the bread balls rise to the top of the broth.
For meatless balls: make the bread balls smaller, fry them in olive oil turning them frequently, and, if necessary, bake them at 300° for twenty minutes.